Saturday, May 31, 2008

Side Orders #2

Here we go with more clips, previews and other fun stuff:

I think, from now on, I'll start these Side Orders posts of with an opening from a movie I like. Now, when most people cite great credits sequences, they're usually in that Saul Bass/Kyle Cooper mode of thinking--animated graphics and the like. But what about the ones where the graphics aren't the whole magilla? Case in point: the credits to Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man! After a silent, sepia-toned prologue we get the surprising initial chords to the movie's title song, the first lob in a most perceptive and rocking soundtrack. Written and performed by former Animal Alan Price, O Lucky Man's chugging, singable score serves as a Greek chorus to the story of Travis, an ambitious coffee salesman who has his mettle tested by the forces of sex, charity, poverty, excess, rock and roll, big business, religious institutions, the military-industrial complex, the court system, the medical industry, and the prison industry! Wow. Rich photography from Miroslav Ondricek compliments this wonderful performance clip. By the way, the man with the glasses and the leather jacket? That's the sly director Anderson.

I ran across this marvel while watching That's Entertainment!, the 1974 compendium of great (mostly musical) scenes from MGM movies. Frank Sinatra saunters on and introduces this remarkable scene from Broadway Melody of 1940, saying "we won't see the likes of this again." Goddamn straight! This was Fred Astaire's first major MGM movie, not with Ginger Rogers as partner but the "Female Fred Astaire," Eleanor Powell. I'm wondering now if Astaire shold be known as the Male Eleanor Powell? She is just spellbinding. This must have been very fun for Astaire, after dragging Rogers around for eight years because he was now partnering with a lady who could easily match him on the dance floor (Rogers was fine, but not Astaire's equal.) This "challenge" dance number, shot amidst a strange black-based, mirror-bedecked set, is absolute proof that dancers are athletes first and artists a hair's-bredth close second--I mean, athletics make the art possible (it's chicken and the egg all over again). Anyway, enjoy this percussively tasty morsel, performed to "Begin the Beguine!"

1990's Life is Sweet is my favorite Mike Leigh movie, largely because of the twin sisters portrayed in the film. One, Nicola (Jane Horrocks) is a pissy, chain-smoking, unemployable tangle of nerves and barely pent-up rage; the other, Natalie (Claire Skinner) is an even-tempered but saddened, lonely woman working daily as a plumber. Here Leigh fills the frame with their bright red hair, pale skin and eyeglasses as they have one of their typical, dead-end arguments. Best scene in a 1990 movie filled with great scenes.

Here I have graphic artist Pablo Ferro's jarring, commanding preview to Dr. Strangelove, another in my series of Best Trailers Ever! We've all seen the movie, but the detailed composition of this trailer really refreshes it for us! It makes us want to see the movie (again!) but, as with all previews of its quality, it really stands as a movie unto itself...a movie about a movie.

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